Negura Bunget - Zi album review
Diverse journeys into the heart of Transylvanian lore
Zi is part two of a trilogy delving into the band’s Transylvanian homeland, shifting the focus this time around from the fables around the landscape to local traditions. As ambitious as the project might be, it’s an approach that’s more concretely focused than the likes of 2006’s landmark Om, where co-founder/drummer Negru and two very different lineups invoked something more esoteric yet universal from the depths of local lore. So if Tul-ni-ca-rind is a fairly typical Negura opening track, a field recording-style assemblage of traditional instrumentation, for the most part, Zi steers away from their more nebulous keys- and-reverb-drenched ways of yore even as it ranges across all manner of styles.
Traces of their black metal past burst into the bawdy lurch of Gradina Stelelor, and if Brazda Da Foc is a brief step back into more cinematic territories, the dulcimers, wooden blocks and more offer an earthiness that exchanges atmosphere for something more tactile. Zi is still a thrilling if bewilderingly diverse ride that dissipates amidst the closing Marea Cea Mare – a gorgeous, gossamer waft of guitar and female vocals that will leave you wondering where they’re headed next.